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Racism in Milwaukee

Did you have an opportunity to read the front page series on racism in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel beginning on December 20, 2020?

The articles written by reporter James E. Causey bring to life his personal stories about his families experience of fleeing from the South in the 1960’s for the “promise” of better opportunities in Milwaukee. Discriminatory housing laws restricted black families to the north side of the city. When African Americans found work in factories, they were accused of stealing jobs from whites.

To understand many of the racism issues that exist today we must educate ourselves to look at the root causes. The articles go on to say that racism is at the root of many of the region’s most troubling problems. Did those promises of a better life in Milwaukee ever address racism? When those factories closed down in the late 70’s and 80’s it does not take long to understand the effect on the community and family life.

The articles raise many questions:

  • Do we need a better understanding of one another? Can this come about with honest conversation?

  • How does the lack of transportation limit access to work opportunities?

  • What is the perception when we say “we don’t see color?”

  • Is there a loss of hope because of the violence many face?

These are but a few questions that need to be explored.

You can likely find a copy of that informative series in the Journal Sentinel in your local library. It includes some details of what Mr. Causey learned by attending a program offered by the YWCA in Milwaukee and his participation in “Unlearning Racism,” an initiative that started in 2017.

Written by: Ron Wildasin, January 2021 issue Pilgrim's Progress, Grafton, WI

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